Time: Friday May 31st 14:00-16:00
Location: Op De Valreep
See Full Program Schedule
Queeristan March 2013: Breaking Borders
Behind a public discourse of tolerance, the Dutch government hides its criminal face regarding the treatment of undocumented migrants. The Netherlands has one of the most restrictive and inhumane migrant policies in Europe.
The most obvious expressions are the migrant detention centers: jails which the Dutch government started building since 2003 to imprison undocumented people. The Netherlands has the highest percentage of people in detention centers in Europe. In 2011 alone 6104 migrants were jailed here, among them hundreds of minors and people who have been tortured and trafficked in their country of origin. The punitive rules in the deportation jails are more strict then for those convicted under criminal law, with more restrictive visitation rules and the impossibility of work and education. Human rights and activist groups have pointed to the severe psychological consequences for the migrants, several of them have already attempted and actually committed suicide inside the prisons.
Whereas migrants are now imprisoned as a form of administrative detention (‘to await the results of their asylum procedure or their deportation’), the Dutch government is currently debating the actual criminalization of ‘illegality’. A law proposal which has been part of the governmental agreement between the two ruling parties VVD (right wing liberals) and PVDA (the labour party). This law would be an obvious violation of international treaties that try to safeguard the universal right to access to education and healthcare and would increase the vulnerability of people without papers to various forms of exploitation and abuse. This law would also criminalize the hundreds of migrants who are currently living on the streets as their request for residence in the Netherlands has been declined, but their country of origin doesn’t accept their return.
Many activist and human right groups resist this ongoing criminalization of migration. From groups trying to struggle against forced deportation to human rights groups visiting the prisons to people squatting alternative housing for migrants in the streets. Also the migrants themselves are protesting, even from within the jails. Since last April this year, dozens of imprisoned migrants entered a hunger and thirst strike to protest their inhumane treatment. Their protest was met with repression: the spokesperson was put in isolation, strikers were physically abused and some deported after weeks of strike; in a court case the judge ruled the strikers can be forced to eat and force-fed. Still, some are on strike supported by activists at the gates of the jails.
Queeristan will march in solidarity with these struggles. As queers we resists and want to break down social and cultural binaries (male/female; straight/gay; black/white; migrant/non-migrant, etc) as we know from our own experiences that these binaries serve as a basis for discrimination, exclusion and marginalization. In a same way that we resist these social and cultural ‘borders’, we protest the violence exercised at the borders of the nation-state and the repressive policies and mechanisms that keep these borders in place. Additionally we protest the way in which currently the LGBT right discourse is instrumentalized by right wing group in their anti-migrant policies. These groups want us to believe that the ‘progressive Dutch society’ is under threat of homophobic migrants and that is why we need more strict migration policies. We resists this false duality: the Netherlands not a queer paradise and homophobia is not a phenomenon that arrives with migration.